Friday, February 03, 2006

Remembering Joe, Daniel, Natalie, and Holly

Dr. Mathes pointed me to this today:

In Memphis' newspaper, The Commercial Appeal (registration required)

Opera brought them together, and to Memphis

By Jody Callahan
January 28, 2006

Mark Hensley took a quick look at the students lounging in his office and summed them up in two sentences:

"Don't let the calm exteriors fool you," the University of Memphis instructor said. "There's a little ax murderer in each of them."

By a combination of luck and coincidence, five opera performers who attended undergraduate or graduate school in Alabama all wound up pursuing advanced degrees at the U of M.

The group of friends will perform at 7:30 tonight at the Opera Gala in the Harris Concert Hall in the U of M's music building.

It all started when Dan Brown and Joe McClellan met while taking show choir classes at Wallace State Community College in north Alabama.

From there, the pair moved on to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, again majoring in voice. That's when Nat Bergeron walked through their door.

Nat commuted an hour each day, so the prospect of sleeping on their "tiny couch" some nights was appealing. Mostly.

"That was one of the nastiest dorms I've ever seen," Nat said.

Joe: "We took the garbage out once a semester."

Next came Holly Bolton, a pal of Nat's roommate and a fellow voice major. She slowly started hanging around the trio.

"You can't get rid of her," Joe said.

"I'm like a tick on a rhino," Holly said.

"She fell instantly in love with me," said Dan Brown, an opera baritone who bellows his love for classic rockers Journey and Boston. "There was a time when Holly and I didn't get along. It was unrequited love."

Holly: "It was the mullet."

From there, Dan, Joe and Nat all went to the University of Alabama to get master's degrees in voice, while Holly stayed behind to finish at UAB.

That's when Kim Brown joined the group, but not without a little drama. See, when Kim met Dan, she was seeing someone. Three months later, Dan and Kim were dating. On Aug. 7, 2004, they married.

While they were all finishing up at Alabama and planning their futures, Holly decided she wanted to go to Yale. Dan and Kim were itching to go to Michigan. Joe and Nat really liked the offerings at the U of M's Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music.

It looked like the gang was breaking up, spreading all across the country. "We kind of decided we didn't want to go to school together," Nat said.

Plans changed. Michigan was too expensive for Dan and Kim. Holly didn't get into Yale, so she came to Memphis. Joe and Nat joined her. Suddenly, the gang's all here.

And now, they're inseparable. They all live a couple of minutes apart in Cordova. They eat together, perform together, party together (when there's time for it). They've even added another member to their group, Maine transplant and fellow voice major Jenny Robinson.

"We think about it now," Kim said, "and we ended up in the right place."

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